Sample of 12-day itinerary (8-day trips also available):
Day 1: Miami, Florida. Allowing for people to arrive during the day, we will begin after dinner with the first group meeting.
Day 2: We will meet this morning after breakfast to continue the workshop orientation and distribute the travel documents. We will then depart for Miami International Airport for our scheduled 1PM flight to Havana. We'll arrive in Havana at 2PM and transfer to our hotel. Our hotel in Havana is the four-star Hotel Telegrafo, ideally located across the street from Parque Central, bordering Old Havana and Central Havana and a 10-minute walk down the Prado to the Malecón. The perfect location for exploring Havana's endless photographic opportunities.
Day 2-4: Havana: Each day, we will endeavor to shoot both sunrise and sunset. The middle of the day will be used either for additional shooting (if the sun isn't too harsh and flat) and/or image reviews and discussions about techniques.
Day 5: Transfer to Trinidad (approximate 5-hour drive).
Day 5-7: Trinidad.
Day 8: Transfer back to Havana.
Day 8-11: Havana.
Day 12: Our final day in Cuba begins with another sunrise shoot, followed by more image reviews and/or more photography in and around Havana. After lunch, we will transfer to the airport for our scheduled 3PM departure back to Miami.
Havana and Trinidad, the two cities in which we will be spending most of our time, were made for walking. From the old American cars, to the faded buildings, to the fishermen standing on the Malecón with the hot tropical sun setting behind them, there is a never-ending visual feast to choose from. The photographic possibilities are truly astounding - a photographer's dream location. It's not figuring out what to take photos of, but try not to be overwhelmed by the choices. Much of the shooting will be during our walks in Havana and Trinidad. Please see section below titled Highlights of Cuba and Trinidad for a small selection of possible locations we will visit.
We will also be taking a day trip out to the spectacular tobacco growing region of Pinar del Rio and Viñales. The Viñales Valley, about 200 km west from Havana city in the province of Pinar del Rio, has some of the most beautiful landscapes in Cuba. Famous for its mogotes, the large limestone formations which date back to the Jurassic period, it is also the region where the country's, and arguably the world's, finest tobacco is grown.
Unique sights are everywhere; fields filled with big green leaves ripening in the sun and plantations covered in canvas sheets for the all-important cigar-wrapper leaves; gorgeous wooden barns called casas del tabaco, where leaves are hung on poles with a needle and thread to turn from green to brown; oxen tilling red-earth fields and cowboy peasants, called guajiros, on horseback...
The environment and the landscape are so unique that it's on the UNESCO World Heritage list. We’ll also have an opportunity to visit, time permitting, a tobacco plantation, cigar factory and rum factory.
Highlights of Havana and Trinidad:
• The Malecón: the Malecón is a 7-kilometer sea wall in Havana Bay that runs along one of the main arteries of the city. It is so important to and ingrained in the psyche of Havana's residents that it's often called the "soul" of Havana. Throughout the day you will see men fishing off the coral outcropping that borders the walkway and children swimming in the ocean At night you will see lovers entwined on cozy perches and groups of people gathering all along the sea wall. The most picturesque section of El Malecón is probably Centro Habana with its crumbling facades, faded paint, neoclassical buildings and Neo-Moorish buildings, which separate the Malecón from the city.
• Revolution Museum: lavishly decorated by Tiffany’s, NYC, this beautiful building was formerly the Presidential Palace of Dictator Fulgencio Batista. The exhibits include photographs, cine film, clothing, original documents and weapons. Outside you will find several trucks, planes, tanks and a piece of a shot down U2 spy plane. They all surround the glass enclosure of Granma, which is a 59-foot motor launch that carried Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and 80 other fighters to the island in 1956.
• National Capitol: built in 1929 to house the island's Senate and House of Representatives, and with a dome that dominates the Havana skyline, this building looks rather similar to the Congress building on Capitol Hill in Washington DC.
• Morro Castle: perched on a rocky bluff above the Atlantic, the fort - with its irregular polygon shape, thick walls and deep protective moat - is a classic example of Renaissance military architecture. The picturesque lighthouse guards the entrance to Havana bay
• Partagas Cigar Factory: the Real Fabrica de Tabacos Partagas is the oldest cigar factory in Havana. The cigars are still rolled by hand and there is a tradition that someone is employed to read to the workers while they work.
• Cabaret Tropicana: the Tropicana Cabaret is Cuba's most famous cabaret. Opened in 1931, it's known as the "Paradise under the Stars" and it has been pleasing crowds ever since. Surrounded by lush vegetation, visitors can enjoy a glittering spectacle featuring over 200 singers, dancers, musicians and vocalists.
• Castillo de la Real Fuerza: opened in 1577, the Castillo de la Real Fuerza fort guarded Havana and her Spanish fleets for hundreds of years. Expanded several times over the centuries, the Giraldilla statue on its top has now become a symbol of Havana.
• Havana’s Cars: to walk around Havana is to see thousands of classic car models cruising by and, at times, you could be forgiven for thinking you had stumbled into a curious automobile museum
• Plaza de la Revolution: the Plaza is one of the world's largest city squares, measuring 72000 square meters. The square is dominated by the José Martí Memorial, which features a 109-meter (358-foot) tall tower and an 18-meter (59-foot) statue and the Ministry of the Interior- which would just be an ordinary building except for the giant ironwork mural forged in the likeness of Ernest (Che) Guevara.
We will also be taking a 3-day trip to Trinidad. Those visiting the 500-year-old city will find Spanish colonial architecture, underscoring a colonial ambiance that marks the tiny city as one of the country’s greatest attractions. Only a few square blocks in size, historic Trinidad is famous for its lovely, cobblestone streets, pastel colored houses with elaborate wrought-iron grills, as well as majestic palaces and plazas.
• A pre-trip general travel information PDF on Cuba that includes details such as; electricity, baggage, food, special food needs, water, money, shopping, telephones, internet access, medicines, souvenirs and gifts, music, customs, clothing, travel preparation, what to bring, what to budget, health and safety, weather and more can be found here.
• This trip is an ideal opportunity for non-photographer partners, spouses and friends to come along. Even non-photographers will find Cuba an extraordinary experience. We are able to offer a 10% discount on the trip cost for a second spot if you would like to bring a non-photographer guest, who will share a room with you. This offer is limited to three slots only. Once the three slots are filled, then the cost for non-photographers will be the same as for active participants. Please inquire here before registering to see if the discount is still available.
• Although some medical insurance is already included in the trip price (you can download information on that here) you are still required to purchase travel insurance to go on the trip. You can purchase travel insurance directly from the travel insurance company of your choice. The companies I recommend and find the easiest to purchase insurance from online are: Travel Insured and Allianz Travel Insurance.
We recommend a plan that covers medical and dental emergencies, medical evacuation, missed connections, lost luggage and trip cancellation. It is also advisable to carry insurance for your camera equipment. You will need to fax (323-933-8733) or email a copy of the insurance policy confirmation to me at least 48 hours before the departure date.
• To get the most from the workshop, you'll need an interchangeable lens camera that has control over exposure, and be familiar with its basic controls and settings. See workshop preparation for details on other camera equipment to bring. Lorne can give you a complimentary personal consultation on what equipment to bring, rent or buy before the workshop.
• If the dates of the trip don't work for you or you'd like a custom trip for yourself or your group, Lorne can assist you. Not every trip works for everyone's time frame and needs. Lorne can set up and lead a custom trip for you, virtually anywhere in the world, using the best accommodations, guides, and services. Please inquire about a private trip based on your private group, itinerary, schedule and needs.
• For more information see the about the workshop, workshop faqs and terms and conditions.
• There are a lot of questions about Cuba. So here are some recent ones that may be helpful.
The cost of the return international flight to Cuba, via Miami, is included in the trip price. Please do not book your travel arrangements to Miami until you receive confirmation that you have secured a spot on the trip. You will need to arrive in Miami the day before the flight to Cuba departs, to assure you are on time for the flight. Accommodations for the night in Miami are not included in the trip cost. The meeting time and place, along with the hotel Lorne is staying at in Miami (you are not required to stay there), will be forwarded to you once your spot has been confirmed.
Except in the mountains, the climate of Cuba is hot, sub-tropical all year. The average minimum temperature is 21°C (70°F), the average maximum 27°C (81°F). The mean temperature in Havana is about 25°C (77°F). The trade winds and sea breezes make coastal areas more habitable than temperature alone would indicate. Cuba has a rainy season (MayOct.) and a dry season (Nov.Apr.). The mountain areas have an average precipitation of more than 180 cm (70 in); most of the lowland area has from 90 to 140 cm (3555 in) annually; and the area around Guantánamo Bay has less than 65 cm (26 in).
The dry season is characterized by mild, sunny weather with average daytime temperatures of 75° to 80°F (24°27°C), but passing “cold fronts” can cause a severe drop in temperature, especially in December and January. The rainy season has higher temperatures with summer (Jun, Jul, Aug) in the 90s with high humidity and some rain.
With such a rich and interesting history there are plenty of great books on Cuba. Here's a few of Lorne's favorites:
• Travelers' Tales Cuba: True Stories (Travelers' Tales Guides) by Tom Miller
• Trading with the Enemy: A Yankee Travels Through Castro's Cuba by Tom Miller
• Cuba and the Night: A Novel by Pico Iyer
• Mi Moto Fidel: Motorcycling Through Castro's Cuba by Christopher P. Baker
• The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway
• Fidel A Critical Portrait by Tad Szulc (out of print)
• Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene
• Cuba by Walker Evans
• The Reader's Companion to Cuba by Alan Ryan
For many workshops Lorne will have sponsor partners provide products and/or product discounts to give or raffle off to workshop participants. These are always products that Lorne has tested and worked with extensively and highly recommends to his participants.
The list of sponsors will be updated frequently and can be found here.